stressful times.

Hank didn’t kill her
when he found
the letters.
Love letters.
Nearly 4,500 of them.
8-yrs worth—
like Dear Abby drowning
in piles of Valentines
from Death Row inmates.

The letters were given
to Hank’s wife from
a chef she worked with—
think Chef Boyardee
w/ sexually-explicit subtitles
on his commercials, divining rod
directed at the
lonesome housewives.

People have been murdered
for far, far less than
years of infidelity.
Hank thought about it.
He had plenty of reason to:
20-yrs of marriage;
8-yrs of betrayal.

Hank filed for divorce, though;
& he began to drink an hour
earlier each day, until booze
replaced his morning coffee.

He got the letters
in the divorce (stole them,
really) & lost his job
at the Chemical Plant
because of his drinking.

So he took a job as a line-cook
for 1/6 the wage, &
he moved into a tired, achy
motel room.

Every night the land-lady—
w/ her urine-stained & torn panty hose
& recently plungered facial features—
would stumble into Hank’s room.
She’d find him watching
re-runs of Family Feud;
the love letters spilled—like a
bad card-shuffling job—on his
sheet-less mattress; & a bottle
of Old Granddad on his lap.

The land-lady’s skin was molting
for attention & her loins were itching
like fire ants.
She had the look of generations
of bad, Appalachian luck.

She stood in front of
the small black & white TV
while the Feud families said,
“Good answer, good answer,” &
she removed her cigarette-burnt, floral
bath-robe.
This bath-robe always reminded Hank
of the rain forests burning, &
oxygen running out.